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Get up and go Raghunathan: ‘Running the marathon of life is about rebounding from failures' PHOTO: V. SREENIVASA MURTHY
Get up and go Raghunathan: ‘Running the marathon of life is about rebounding from failures' PHOTO: V. SREENIVASA MURTHY

V. Raghunathan's Don't Sprint the Marathon is a self-help guide on following your heart

A class XII student in Mumbai who was stressed over studies throws himself to the train; another college student hangs herself when she fails to clear her final year engineering papers and there are others who silently battle the ‘fear of failure' with bouts of depression and behavioural problems.

Escalating numbers of student suicides is a wake-up call to pushy parents. In a rush to make their child a super achiever, they turn to ‘regimental parenting' which seems to take away the natural flair of children. “The diary of a class V student is packed like that of a senior executive,” says author V. Raghunathan as we settle down for a conversation over coffee. “Parents want them to study, play tennis, and learn dance and music too.”

Raghunanthan was at Reliance TimeOut recently to launch his new book “Don't Sprint the Marathon” (Harper Collins, Rs.199). “Media reports on student suicides and my interactions with parents made me realise the huge expectations heaped on students,” adds the former professor of IIM, Ahmedabad. The book is a self-help guide to parents, high-pressure professionals, academicians and teachers. Sipping coffee, he clarifies that he “don't want to run down a good start” but drive home the message that “those who don't have it are not write offs”.

A sense of guilt is imbibed in children when they fail to crack a competitive exam or make it to a top institute. The opportunities are aplenty now, from wild life photography and radio jockeying to art. Parents should build on child's strengths and teach them how to deal with failure. “Promote excellence born out of passion and they will do an outstanding job of it,” the author adds. A system where rote learning and percentage of marks is the norm, the book draws inspiring stories of personalities — Dr. Kallam Anji Reddy, T.N.Rao, Ashwini Nachappa, Ila Bhatt and G.M. Rao — less celebrated names, who started off being average and went on to make it big.

Life is a long-haul process, a marathon. Don't sprint it. “What counts is the spirit and persistence. There will be ups and downs, but running the marathon of life is about rebounding from failures and living life with a sense of satisfaction.” And, altering the pace to match the long haul and emerge a winner. Taking away the joys of childhood, he says is not good for a holistic development.

“A child has to get his hands dirty and learn to climb a tree as risk taking manifests itself in such activities,” the author reasons.

The book draws examples of ordinary people such as Capt. V.S. Mani, who have re-invented their lives by doing things they are passionate about. This retired RBI manager has set up a home for children through his NGO “Socare”. While walking to his bank past the jail, he saw these children waiting with nowhere to go. “Apart from food, shelter and education, providing emotional security is a big task.”

The author's first book “Games Indians Play” spoke about the Indianness of Indians.Raghunathan who is the chief executive of GMR Varalakshmi Foundation, Hyderabad, is also an adjunct faculty teaching behavioural finance at Bocconi University, Milan. His next book “Paradoxes and Dilemma” releases in April and he is currently working on a book based on “locks, Mahabharata and Mathematics”. He has written Hindi rhymes too. “You have one life. Don't leave anything unexplored,” smiles the author.

K. JESHI

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